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Feb 12, 2009 08:10 AM

Pig Jowl

I have an opportunity to order pig jowl from our local fire department. They have a pork sale every year to raise money as it is a volunteer fire department Any suggestions on how to cook? I am always interested in trying new items.

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  1. The classic use for pig jowl is to cure it into Guanciale, an Italian cured meat similar to bacon or pancetta, but not smoked.

    1. You will love this stuff. It's probably the most tender and tasty part of the pig.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        I found a recipe - I just have to see if I have a place to cure it..

        1. re: kprange

          Just cure it in a platic bag in your fridge. I hang mine to dry in the basement for 3 weeks after the cure.

      2. Is it the same as pig cheeks? They're delicious slow cooked.

        2 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl


          Hankstramm may be correct regarding pig anatomy, but the store where I buy pig jowls labels them "pig cheeks", so it may depend on where you live and where you get your pork. If the cross section of what you call cheeks looks kinda like bacon, it's jowl.

          1. re: Zeldog

            After a little more research, I stand corrected. There may be some differences in the cuts, depending on the butcher, but the pig cheeks I buy are mostly from the side of the head, not from under the chin. The upper part is rather thin and mostly skin. The lower part is adjacent to the true jowl, so it is thicker than the upper part and has the same striations as the jowl.

            The guanciale I made from the cheek was very good, but now I need to try it with the real thing. On the other hand, cheeks are super cheap, so if you don't have any experience curing meat you can practice your technique and recipe before going to the trouble and expense of finding jowls.

          1. Pig jowl tends to be the actual fatty part that is almost like pork belly in its striation and normally does not include the pig cheek.

            If you are getting just the jowls, I recommend making guanciale and it's probably the easiest and most accessible "bacon" to cure for the home chef.

            As for it being the most tender part of the pig, if you're including the cheeks, this is totally incorrect. It tends to be the absolute toughest part of the pig, being the most worked muscle in the pig body. The actual jowl is rather chewy until you render the fat and crisp it.